My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

The Past and Future of Gambling in Wales and the Wider UK

Gambling is one of the world’s oldest pastimes. People have been doing it to have fun for thousands of years – archaeologists have found six-sided dice that they’ve been able to date back to 3000 BC. There’s no reason to believe that people weren’t gambling long before then, and there’s evidence of it going on in the UK for centuries, if not longer.

The Beginnings

For a long time, there was a vast difference in how the people of the UK would gamble. The lower classes would bet on games of chance or dice games. The nobles and the upper classes, meanwhile, would enjoy horse races and other sports.

Although there’s a long history of the people of the UK enjoying gambling, there’s also a long history of people trying to put a stop to it. King Henry VIII even banned gambling altogether. Over the next few centuries, Parliament passed several acts that effectively banned gambling.

Land-based Casinos

Things changed drastically in the 1900s, when new legislation passed, allowing betting shops to open up, and with the Betting and Gaming Act of 1961, land-based casinos became legal as well.

The first legal land-based casino in Britain, The Casino Club Port Talbot opened in the same year. It was owned by George Alfred James, a Welsh entrepreneur, who went on to open some of the biggest land-based casinos in London, including the Golden Horseshoe.

The Casino Club Port Talbot has unfortunately closed its doors now, but they stayed open for more than 50 years. It was only open to members and was also home to a bar, a restaurant, and live cabaret. The casino was so successful that it led some people at the time to refer to Port Talbot as the Monte Carlo of Wales.

The Rise of Online Gambling

The next big change in the UK’s gambling scene was the arrival of online casinos. The first one launched in 1994 and now there are dozens of online casino sites based in the UK, with even more all over the world. 2005 saw the passing of the Gambling Act, which set up the Gambling Commission, overseeing all forms of gambling from bingo and lotteries to online casinos and arcades.

The industry has grown in recent years. As of last year, the UK’s online gambling industry was estimated to be worth over £14.5 billion. Improvements in technology – including some from companies based right here in Wales – have made it easier for people to gamble, whenever and wherever they want.

The Future of Gambling in Wales?

We can’t help but notice the lack of Welsh language options with today’s online casinos so, from our perspective, they still have room to grow here. Services like Common Voice, which trains algorithms to recognise the Welsh language, could help lead to more of such digital services in Welsh. And given the popularity of online gambling, and the fact that there are more than half a million fluent Welsh speakers in Wales alone, it’s possible this may come to pass sooner rather than later.